Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who do you obey?

You can even do it in the board room.

Took a dive into the spiritual realm recently and decided to check out the Upanishads.

According to Wikipedia:
The Upanishads are considered by orthodox Hindus to contain revealed truths (Sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (brahman) and describing the character and form of human salvation (moksha).
This is a rich way of explaining the alll-encompassing nature of the texts.

A gem I found in the collection (specifically in part III - Katha):
The sense of the wise man obey his mind, his mind obeys his intellect, his intellect obeys his ego, and his ego obeys the Self.
The words convey a subtle yet direct message; the wise, as is denoted in the sentence, follow a chain of command that carries out orders from the top, the "top" here being the "Self" (i.e., the spirit/soul/essence).

Reality check: How many egos obey the Self? 

Every day impulses and vices (just consider the 7 deadly sins) are driven by the mind (impulsive instant gratification rewards await), and the rest by the intellect/ego.

The intellect, inasmuch as it refers to the capacity human beings have to resolve problems and subsequently determine a rational course of action to do so, is enough, in most circumstances, to live by. In other words, leaving the soul out of one's life, can work for a while, but in theory, not in the long term.

Note: I'll leave the definition of "Self" (i.e. the soul) to the reader. 

The problem here is: how can one achieve a true connection with the Soul without being a monk or a cloistered nun?

How does a business world inhabitant -  an Investment Banker, an Engineer, a Salesman or a CEO - to name a few, balance it all out? In these individuals, does the Intellect/Ego divorce itself from the Self, and are both therefore attended separately? 

The separation itself leads to falling back in line with the Intellect/Ego. There might not be a true possibility for a verifiable separation.

Referring to a religious man - 

Pope Francis, when asked in a recent interview who he was - responded: 
“I ​​do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner. 
When I first read this I thought about the Catholic Church; whose members are taught that they are sinners by default. 

After reading the text from the Upanishads I referred to previously, I realized how profound Pope Francis' self-description was:

We are all, in some way "sinners". Even monks and swamis have bad days, in which they undoubtedly make mistakes. When they are in touch with their Self they might make less, but being in a perfect state of existence is an impossibility, at least when regarding life in practical terms.

Yet the mere reflection regarding whether we're guided by our Self merits further discussion. Contemplating a deeper connection to one's innate sense of purpose is something that is not only reserved for the spiritual or religious. And separating the Self from the Intellect/Ego can, therefore, be avoided.

Granted, juxtaposing the proverbial monk with the secular white collar capitalist to compare their practices and as such, their relation with the Self, seems silly, if not insane, but considering what they have in common, at least when considering that both are subject to the human condition, can lead to interesting questions. 

And an interesting one is: Who do you obey?